Compare and Contrast the loss of childood innocence "Death of a Naturalist" and "The Early Purges" by Seamus Heaney

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Compare and contrast the way Heaney presents the loss of childhood innocence in “Death of a Naturalist” and “The Early Purges”

By Emily Ashford

In the course of this essay I want to contrast and compare two poems by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. His anthology “Death of a Naturalist” was written in reflection of childhood and the loss of innocence possibly based on his own experiences. This anthology has received much praise and recognition over the past few decades. Seamus was brought up in the deep hearted countryside of Ireland. He grew up alongside nature and alongside 8 other children, although he was the oldest and maybe understood some things before the other children; such as death and the “facts of life.” In the poems “Death of a Naturalist” he learns the true realities of nature, and how the frogspawn and frogs come to be there. In “The Early Purges” he learns not to be sympathetic toward cute and fluffy but ultimately resource draining animals.

Both settings are rural rather than urban however, the each poem focuses on different areas of the countryside; “Death of a Naturalist” is based around where “all the year flax-dam” grows. Flax – dam it a stagnant pond where harvested flax is left to decompose to prepare for manufacture into linen and other materials. The poem is narrated by a young boy, he is recalling events in which he explored nature where the “flax – dam festered in the heart of the townland.” This implies that, at this time in the boys life, nature was especially important.

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        In “The Early Purges” events are recalled on a farm. A “well run” farm where delicate and unnecessary animals are seen as “scraggy wee shits” and are slaughtered. The poem is narrated again, from a young boy’s perspective and perhaps even the perspective of the poet himself.

Through the boys interaction with nature we are reminded and recognize the childhood innocence. In “Death of a Naturalist” the boy is fascinated with nature to the extent that even the most trivial and perhaps annoying things to most adults, such as “bluebottles” and “the warm thick slobber of frogspawn” become ...

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